Dorset Library Service has been awarded funding from an Arts Council England National Lottery Project grant, to develop Libraries as Cultural Hubs Phase 2. This one-year digital arts programme of 11 events and 2 artist residencies for young people and adults across Dorset, is supported by The Friends Groups of Corfe Mullen, Sturminster Newton, Weymouth, Wimborne and Wyke Regis Libraries.

Working as a partner, The Arts Development Company will support the programme as a steering group partner and support the marketing aspects.

The focus will be on celebrating diversity with a range of artists to shape an open, more diverse, inclusive and equal cultural offer. The programme will enable Dorset Libraries to:

  • offer a range of arts events to support the wellbeing of children and adults and provide bespoke workshops for adults living with dementia
  • provide and promote the opportunity for young people to actively engage in Arts Award Discover and Explore
  • collaborate with Activate Performing Arts Remix and with Dorset Youth Dance to create set pieces to inspire young people
  • actively target cultural cold spots in East Dorset and the Purbecks
  • contribute to the local economy and sense of place through a programme of local artist-led activities
  • work collaboratively with Library partner organisations; The Arts Development Company and the Friends Groups of Corfe Mullen, Sturminster Newton, Weymouth, Wimborne and Wyke Regis Libraries who are supporting these events.

Book now!

Family friendly 3D Art Workshops using recycled and found materials. With Peter Margerum. Free but must be booked.
Swanage Library, 4 August, various times
Wareham Library, 12 August, various times

How we’re involved

  • We helped develop the funding bid after partnering a first stage consultation with the communities in Gilligham and Weymouth
  • We wrote the artists briefs for the 8 residencies and supported recruitment of all the artists
  • We support the Libraries as Cultural Hubs co-ordinator in her role working with the artists and programming activities. 
  • We are on the programme steering group
  • We will feed into the evaluation and reporting for the programme

Our impact – Phase 1 Overview

Key Facts

  • 86 artists employed
  • 8250 participants at events
  • 84 staff training days
  • 1745 live audience
  • 21 new commissions
  • 123 days of employment for artists
  • 756 exhibition/performance days

View the full report here

“This has made a big difference to me. Did I tell you I’ve been very ill? I don’t think of any of that when I come and see you, you’ve really encouraged me and given me hope with my poems.”
– Writing workshop participant

 Next Steps

  • Libraries as Cultural Hubs has enabled the communities in Gillingham and Weymouth to actively collaborate with the Library Service and
    plan integrated community events. Gillingham Library plan to participate in Gillingham Green Week and Gillingham Walking Festival and our relationship with the Weymouth LGBT community was strengthened by the library service hosting Storytime with Mama G as part of Weymouth’s inaugural Gay Pride event. Developing the concept of libraries as a community space for performance, we are now being approached by artists who wish to use the space, as well as arts organisations such as Activate Performing Arts. We plan to host community workshops to support the Inside Out Dorset Festival Sense of Unity in 2021.
  • Having held successful adult and children’s events at Gillingham Library we would like to explore the concept of using other rural libraries as venues for touring performers. We will continue to build networks with health partners and agencies to offer a range of arts and health programmes with appropriate professional support. We are currently delivering arts programmes as one of the partners for My Creative Life, a pilot project to deliver adult day care differently.
  • Let’s Create (Arts Council England’s new 10-year Strategy 2020-2030) declares that public libraries provide “a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture…” and we look forward to developing the Libraries as Cultural Hubs offer in collaboration with our local communities, potential partners and Friend’s Groups across our network of 23 rural and town libraries. We recognise that the cultural offer would be different for each library, but a collaborative approach will enable us to contribute to cultural communities and offer opportunities for individuals to develop and express creativity. We will look to work with education providers to offer young people access to a range of cultural activities and continue to help build stronger happier communities, develop readers and writers, promote digital literacy and support social prescribing.


Writer in residence Alan Ward reflects on his time at Gillingham Library

Fiction writer and poet Alan Ward has completed his residency at Gillingham Library. He's put together his final thoughts and reflections for this successful project. I’ve got to know Gillingham Library very well in the last three months. I’ve known it in its quiet...

Sarah Acton’s writer’s residency lives on at Weymouth Library

Writer, poet and creative facilitator Sarah Acton has just completed her three-month writers residency at Weymouth Library. Although her time there has come to an end, her project 'Weymouth-on-Sea' will live on. Here's Sarah to tell you more: At the start of my...

This Library is Yours: Introducing Gillingham Library’s writer-in-residence Alan Ward

Gillingham Library is currently home to fiction writer and poet Alan Ward. He's encouraging everyone to engage more with their local library and to celebrate this wonderful public resource we all share. We recently caught up with him to find out how he's getting on...
Arts Council England